H-1B Premium Processing Temporarily Suspended

For months, the tech community has wondered what, if anything, President Trump will do to alter the H-1B program.

H-1B visas, which are distributed via a lottery system, allow American firms to hire workers from other countries. There are some caveats, including a hard cap on the number of visas issued each year. Although companies claim that the H-1B allows them to hire workers otherwise unobtainable, many workers (and more than a few pundits) assert that the system is routinely abused to displace American employees in favor of cheaper labor.

During the 2016 campaign season, then-candidate Trump hinted that he would gut the H-1B program. “We shouldn’t have it, it’s very, very bad for workers,” he said. “It’s unfair to our workers and we should end it.” His campaign surrogates, many of whom transitioned into becoming members of his administration, took a similarly hard line to H-1Bs in their current form; U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for example, has repeatedly expressed a desire to radically retool the program.

While the administration’s ultimate H-1B policy remains unclear, some changes to the visa seem to be underway. “Starting April 3, 2017, USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions,” read a note on uscis.gov. “This suspension may last up to 6 months.”

The note added: “While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker[,] which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. We will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.”

What exactly is affected by the suspension? Any petition filed for the fiscal year 2018 regular cap, as well as the master’s advanced degree cap exemption (also known as the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that are cap-exempt.

“This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times,” the note concluded. USCIS claims that the time savings will allow it to more effectively process long-pending petitions, “which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions,” as well as “prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.”

This move is a big deal, according to experts. For starters, it may have a sizable effect on the business strategies of companies trying to expedite workers into the United States. Second, it may presage other, bigger changes.

“I think that removing premium processing may allow the administration to pick who to prioritize in the wait times for H-1B visas,” Neil Ruiz, executive director of the Center for Law, Economics and Finance at George Washington University, told CNN over the weekend.

Whether this suspension will actually kick off a larger shift for visa programs remains to be seen; in the meantime, expect that tech firms that depend on expedited processing will adjust accordingly.

Image Credit: Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock.com

Comments

20 Responses to “H-1B Premium Processing Temporarily Suspended”

March 09, 2017 at 6:53 am, Robi said:

I believe that the H1-B and other similar visas are used by non-US companies to bring their own foreign workers and promote them to permanent US citizenship over time. I also believe that some US companies abuse these visas for cheaper labor. My take is, that while it is valid that some foreign workers could be better qualified, our own labor force should not be neglected. These visas should have an additional social security fee/penalty added to them to replenish the dwindling Social Security funds, i.e if the visa holder earns $60,000.00 then an additional $30,000.00 should go into the general Social Security fund. I agree that this penalizes companies who want to hire those visa holders, but it would give them the incentive to look locally or at least improve the Social Security fund.

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March 09, 2017 at 7:40 am, Excited about this said:

Thank you, President Trump!!! Its about time the tech industry realized how badly they were screwing over the American workers with this so called”program”. Once, so excited someone is finally doing something about this very unfair practice.

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March 09, 2017 at 9:02 am, H1-BullShit said:

Good! Send the 3rd worlders back to India. Let them build their own Silicon Valley there (which will never happen).

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March 09, 2017 at 11:18 am, H1-BullShit Reply said:

Hey !! Look we got here couple of haters , couple of hatus….
Judging from your reply, you are one struggling IT person but cannot help you bud, your own inabilities you can’t blame on your so called third world countries.
Every king falls, one day your first tier country will. Matter of time( which will happen )

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March 09, 2017 at 11:26 am, Mike Rowland said:

To the extent H1-b is needed, it must underscore the need to improve the skills pool for American workers. Because the system is rigged in favor of companies who can manipulate the system, the fee must be made significantly more expensive in order to encourage companies to invest in the own workers.

Labor is just another trade deficit and in this case a border tax on the import of H1-b labor is the only way to ensure high skilled American workers have a shit at their American dream

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March 09, 2017 at 11:35 am, KEVIN K said:

Yes I too agree with this change. Its “change” that should of happened ohhh I don’t know 8 years ago? In my opinion it’s too obvious that this is being used to discard hard working Americans for the latter.

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March 09, 2017 at 11:41 am, AJ S said:

Do you realize most H1B workers pay tremendous tax to a Social Security and Medicare fund but are not entitled to use any of it ? Its reserved for Americans only. Does that seem fair to make me pay for something im not even entitled to use ?

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March 09, 2017 at 11:45 am, AJ S said:

There would be no IT industry in America without Indians. We are the brains behind all the technology you get to enjoy. We are greedy people who run after money and thats why we are here since America throws more money at talent than most other countries. Its really not about America cause in reality America is not as good or advanced as other Nations in Europe or Asia but it pays better and thats why we are here. That and most Americans cant do what we can.

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March 09, 2017 at 11:53 am, john wilson said:

I will appreciate trump came with such an awesome idea , but how many engineers available in US with out job?
5 to 10% rest of the all unemployed peoples are 10th grade and below they are not suitable for doing any white color job , what they are going to do in tech industry sweeping and cleaning ?. 5000$ for visa how much money USCIS getting from visa process , i will say tieght the process may be we need to keep some more filter to get the h1b visa not such kind of stupid ideas

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March 09, 2017 at 12:33 pm, Mark D said:

Having been in the IT industry since 1979, I remember the days before we were invaded by H-1B. I spent lots of time having to train people who barely understood how to use a modern bathroom (no lie there), never mind a computer. Yet somehow, these people were “qualified” over American workers? Companies farm out these consultants (if you want to call them that), who just about need an interpreter to participate in a staff meeting. It is simply ridiculous, and high time that something was done to fix this. I don’t even agree with Trump and his policies so far, but on this issue, I can only happily applaud.

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March 09, 2017 at 12:37 pm, Cori said:

I have always been curious when they talk about the “premium” visas and the fact that US citizens don’t have the proper training for these jobs. Isn’t that the real issue, it costs too much money to get formal training and the training is obsolete before we even hit the job market.

If it was cheaper to obtain the education in the first place and easier to keep up with the changes in technology we wouldn’t be having these issues in the first place.

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March 09, 2017 at 12:59 pm, JA said:

We can’t be upset with the folks from India about this. Our companies have taken advantage just as they have. And the bottom line is that they like everyone else are just looking to have a good life for themselves and their families.

With that being said, I do think/believe that something needs to be done to ensure that U.S. Citizens get a fair chance as well as more stringent rules on who is hired. All of us in the IT field know, the folks from India too, that a lot of the people they bring are no more qualified than their American counter parts. So its not always a matter of skill, its a matter of price/money. That is what I find frustrating. We can hire and train folks from the US to become QA testers, there is no need to import folks to do that job. Development and administrations is completely different and may require some extra help.

Just my two cents.

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March 09, 2017 at 2:04 pm, Scatcat said:

The real elephant in the room is the skills gap where the discipline of a BSEE or CSEE is over qualified for the job they are doing. Tech companies require a large amount over qualified BSEE or CSEE, US colleges cannot produce them fast enough; therefore, the need to import over qualified workers via H-1b. The solution is reducing the demand by replacing engineers with vocational trained technicians where the disciplines of a BSEE are not needed, that how our armed services work. All the skilled workers, need by the military, to operate and maintain highly sophisticated equipment comes from a vocational training system that turns High School graduates to the high tech sailors, solders, airmen, marines needed for a modern military. Google and Intel can lean a lot from our armed forces.

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March 09, 2017 at 5:18 pm, Dean D said:

The work I was doing at HPE is now done in Chennai, India and Sao Paulo Brazil. Meanwhile I can’t find a job although my 13 month review was excellent and I have more experience than 90% of the staff. BTW the keys to the kingdom of the largest US airline is easily accessed so what kind of vetting happens in Chennai? Is it more difficult for bad guys to get into the Plano Tx. facility or the Chennai facility? Well obviously nobody who can do anything about it either doesn’t know or has been paid off!!!!

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March 09, 2017 at 11:32 pm, Nightbreaker said:

Outstanding! It’s about time!!

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March 10, 2017 at 1:25 am, Milly said:

I am delighted to see Trump following through on this. As an American woman in STEM I have found myself being pushed aside to allow for preferential treatment for under-qualified H1b visa holders. If this keeps up I will keep my job that much longer. My current manager is an under-qualified, over-promoted former H1b visa holder who now has a green card and does everything he can to support bringing in more of his countrymen. He has prevented me from having access to current systems and continually tries to cut me out of things – unfortunately for him, even if I don’t have detailed knowledge of what he is doing, I am called on to find and correct the problems that these under-qualified workers create. I can’t wait for these guys to have to leave. The interesting thing is that I HAVE seen their resumes and (a) the skill sets are not matching reality and (b) the reported experience is hardly sufficient for a run of the mill junior developer. and these are NOT the “best and brightest” workers that the H1b visa was meant to be used for. Donald Trump can continue to annoy the press and Democrats as much as he wants as long as he wants in my book – all I want him to do is fix these immigration problems!

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March 10, 2017 at 3:33 am, Bill Torres said:

Finally,
After 25 years of H1B visas abuses, President Trump put a stop to it. Clinton allowed all these Indians into the country. I’m glad she lost. Indians claim they are the only ones who can save IT. I say BULLSHIT!!

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March 12, 2017 at 7:02 pm, Tin said:

I’m working in the industrial for 20 years. The H1-B visa was abused by American corporations which contracted with the big Indian consultant company. We taught the on site and off site for those Indian companies. At the end keep laying off full time employee. In this case not just within the IT department, also other supporting department in accounting and payroll. An payable personal said the consultant charges didn’t save money at all. Even law firm and medical company are outsourcing as well. Does it have a good security on information? I saw this massive visa abuse getting more invasive from 2008 which were under Obama administration. We do need low paying manufacturing jobs and high paying professional jobs. But now we lost all to China and India. How much kick back does the C-level management receive from those contractor agency?! Corporate Greed plus Bad government. Reporting a fake unemployment rate which excludes whoever not looking for 6 months. We can’t count on social welfare. In the long run, corporate and government will go bankrupt and other countries who own the most of our government bond will take over. Note that they paid tax but also wire their earnings out of this country. Hope they can change the law that H-1B can’t never qualify to change to permanent residence. Thanks to President Trump to make the first step to the goal.

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March 13, 2017 at 4:00 pm, MJ said:

The previous presidents made mess by allowing L1 and H1Bs when there was no necessity to increase the cap. But as long as H1B beneficiary comes for genuine work and goes back it give more taxes to the government. L1/H4 EAD kind of work permits must be removed. I think UK has that kind of practice.

***********Protect Present and Future Generations*********
There is no necessity to bring thousands on F1 visa (Students)
and University system must be restructured to protect present and future generations who born and studying schools and colleges in US.

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March 13, 2017 at 9:06 pm, Robi said:

[quote]
***********Protect Present and Future Generations*********
There is no necessity to bring thousands on F1 visa (Students)
and University system must be restructured to protect present and future generations who born and studying schools and colleges in US.
[end quote]
I do not believe that this is necessary. Colleges and Universities are educational institutions, and they are worldwide. A foreign student shouldn’t be denied the education in such an institution.
The USCIS rules and law are pretty clear on F1 and M1 visas, and what you can and cannot do.
https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment
and
https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/study-exchange/student.html
Employment is restricted to temporary “Occupational Training Programs(OPT)”, which is allowed only after the first academic year, and does not take jobs away from a US citizen, in fact, I would argue, that it even increases jobs due to training of the OPT trainee.

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